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Bass 18th December 2011 03:04

Does anyone know this ship?
Back in the '50s and/or '60's a three masted schooner with high stern castle used to berth alongside Auckland's Viaduct Basin. I think it looked more like a coaster than a sailing vessel and believe she carried ammunition, perhaps across the Tasman. I can't remember the name nor find photos but would appreciate any information, please.

Many thanks indeed, Leith Duncan

spongebob 18th December 2011 05:07

Bass, that would be the top sail schooner "Huia" which was owned by Nobel (Australia)at one time. A beautiful ship in her day and I worked with Jack Lord who regularly crewed on her. Google Top sail Schooner Huia for plenty of info.


Bass 18th December 2011 05:51

Thanks for replying spongebob,
No it wasn't "Huia". Nobel rings a bell and they may have been the company that owned her. I'll try and track that down. The ship I'm looking for seems to be a unique design about the size of "Elite_Roseau" with stern a bit like "Brigitte_Graebe610" (both in the Coasters Gallery) but with the open deck plated in. Although high aft she seemed low forward. She looked like a motor vessel but her rig was big enough for serious sailing - not just auxillary.

Interesting to hear you worked on Huia. Log of the Huia was one of the first books about NZ ships I read but didn't manage to buy until a much later edition. Later did your crewmate Jack Lord live on Waiheke Island? [No. I knew another Lord, though agewise he could have been a son.]


Butters 20th December 2011 10:18

I remember seeing such a vessel and also in Westport discharging explosives , probably for the mines - her name I think was 'WONGALA' , owned and operated out of Melbourne- to carry explosives for Nobel.


exsailor 20th December 2011 10:26

Picture of the 'WONGALA' -

Bass 22nd December 2011 10:12

Thank you Butters and exsailor. I think you are right. The name seems familiar. I have not been able to see the picture yet but I'm in Beijing and internet is not always reliable. I look forward to seeing it when I get back to NZ. Many many thanks indeed!

Bass 23rd December 2011 01:22

You've solved years of mystery. That's the ship alright and the photos have corrected details that memory distorted over 40 years. Many many thanks!

RICHARD DAVIES 31st January 2014 04:46

The Wongala carried mostly explosives for ICI, for use in mining. In those days explosives could not be carried on general cargo ships so ICI had to engage small ships dedicated to the freight. The sails saved alot of diesel!

Sharkie Price 8th February 2014 16:51

There was also the Piri and she was NZ flagged and crewed. I thought that she was either owned by ICI and I know the crew used to get 5 shillings a day extra
for sailing in her. Sharkie Price Ex A/B NZ coast

namyar 14th February 2014 02:43

I was in "Wongala" not long before she was run up on a reef in the Torres Strait. A most forgettable little thing, a real workhouse. I have pics of her under trials in H.K. before delivery and others in her life. She was well documented. Powered with a filthy British Polar. Her best part was the two little 2-71 GM engines driving the hydraulics for the winches. She made a beautiful radar beacon where she landed.

namyar 14th February 2014 02:51

The "PIRI" in later life went up to the islands blackbirding. While on the slip in Rabaul the town was hit by an earthquake and Piri fell out of her cradle and sustained severe damage. She was towed out into St. Georges channel and scuttled. She had a 6cylinder "Gardner" 2 stroke engine, a great lazy brute but streets ahead of the British Polar. The twinscrew ex. NZ. coaster "Waiotahi" is also out in the channel with wongala. The "Hokianga" sprung a plank and sank in the Papuan Gulf.

namyar 14th February 2014 03:03

In "Wongala" the m/e exhaust was led up inside the mizzen mast. This created all sorts of problems as it all got old and decrepit which added to the misery of the engineer. At least the auxilliary engines had water cooled exhausts out the side. By the time I got to her the owner had ditched the lifeboats, dropped a 12 person inflatable on board and built a permanent standing top over the boat deck, this adding to the tremendous instability of the whole thing, to work on the main engine the whole passageway in the accomodation above was lifted so there was no access to the crew cabins.
I am glad she was a one-off.

stillwaters 6th May 2018 03:15

Hi, Yes the Piri, I was the last Deck Boy who sailed in her, (1957)and remember the 5 Shillings a day danager money, The last trip we done, on our way back from Altona, about 400 miles off Cape Reinga we lost our rudder and the Old Man refused to call for assistance, so a Jury Rudder was rigged over the stern with a direct sterring system, very hard to manage. On a arrival at Auckland all hands were called to the Old Man's Cabin where a tot of Rum was given to all except me , as he said I was too young (15yo ). I believe she was a sister ship, almost to the 'Huia' I also believe the 'Huia' lost more seamen over the side than any other ship. Yes many a great story can be told.

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